Star Trek: Discovery :: Passing the torch

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We’ve been building up to this big Federation / Klingon conflict for weeks now and wondering how the war with the Klingons can be course corrected in order to make things mesh with Star Trek canon as we know it. Of course it took a visit to the Mirrorverse and some body changing shenanigans to get to this point and by the end, it was all kind of … quietly resolved. But that’s the Federation way, right?

When Admiral Cornwell put Mirror Georgiou in charge of the mission to bring the war to the Klingons by threatening to attack their homeworld (while the Klingons were on their way to decimate Earth), neither Burnham nor Saru were too keen on the idea. And they both did their best to blow up the illusion of the newly resurrected Georgiou at the helm. But she convinced Burnham that she knew the best way to defeat the Klingons and Burnham was either going to be with her or against her. Burnham reluctantly chose with.

But Burnham wasn’t too fond of Georgiou’s tactics, trying to beat information out of L’Rell. It took her just a bit too long to reveal there was another way to get information — Tyler. But all Georgiou saw in him was a science experiment that was no good to either side. He did, however, still have Voq’s memories and was able to show them the best places on Qo’noS to jump the ship and send a drone to map the surface. Georgiou also added Tilly to their away party, giving her the honor of carrying and guarding the drone.

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With the Discovery inside Qo’noS, the landing party is beamed to the Orion sector of the planet (a callback to the original series’ famous green Orion slave girl), kind of the Mos Eisley of the Star Trek universe. They need to find some sacred shrine so while Tyler and Burnham go off to do some digging, Georgiou takes some time for herself with a pair of Orions (male and female, no less), leaving poor Tilly to fend for herself. She befriends an Orion man huffing something — and the guy is played by Clint Howard, who played Balok on the classic Trek episode ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’! Rather than risk being thrown out of the establishment, she indulges herself and passes out. When she comes to, the man is trying to saw through the handcuff holding the case to her wrist.

She manages to get away and checks to make sure the drone is safe and … it’s not a drone, it’s a bomb. And the volcanoes on Qo’noS are not dead, so introducing the bomb into the volcanic system would set off a chain reaction that would destroy the planet. So basically the Federation was willing to turn over command of the mission to someone not really part of Starfleet to commit genocide in order to save Earth. Burnham is not okay with that. But Georgiou has already taken the bomb from Tilly and dropped it into the shaft they had been looking for, simply awaiting her retinal scan for detonation.

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Burnham demanded to speak to Admiral Cornwell and threatened a mutiny, with the crew backing her up, if she allowed the plan to commence. She had a better plan and Cornwell allowed Burnham to take charge of the mission. First she had to talk Geogiou out of setting off the bomb — and the bickering back and forth of the two was the highlight of the episode — and then resetting the retinal scan to L’Rell, giving her the chance to approach the Klingon high council and convince them that they will only survive as a unified race, not the 24 separate houses they are now. When she reveals she could very easily end it all, the ships withdraw from their approach to earth and the show has basically set things right … to a point.

First off, the Federation makes good on its promise to Georgiou and just lets her go free, to roam around the universe as she pleases. I doubt she will heed Burnham’s request to ‘be good,’ so I expect the Discovery will bump into her every now and then moving forward. Second, Tyler opts to leave with L’Rell, taking what Georgiou said about him to heart. It was a touching moment as he and Burnham silently said their farewells, but of course we can see him again at some point. But if this is now about nine years before the original series, how do we explain a Mirror Universe emperor and a Klingon that looks human in the Trek we know? (Unless L’Rell is able to turn him back into Voq.) Plus, we still don’t really know if the real Ash Tyler is still alive, or Gabriel Lorca, for that matter. Do we just assume the Mirror Lorca put the Prime Lorca on the ISS Discovery that was destroyed in the war?

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And what of the Discovery itself? With the crew, living and dead (RIP Hugh Culber), receiving Medals of Honor from Starfleet for saving the planet, and Burnham having her record expunged, restoring her position in Starfleet, the ship is now on its way to Vulcan with Sarek to pick up its new captain … the old fashioned way, warp, as Starfleet searches for a way to use the spore drive without a human navigator. But on the way, the ship receives a distress call from a Federation starship. The readout shows the call numbers NCC 17 before the shot cuts away and Burnham says that’s Captain Pike’s ship, the Enterprise. And sure enough, there is the Enterprise with the end credits playing the original Star Trek them instead of the Discovery theme. Oh boy, they are going to have a lot of explaining to do now!

The season finale ended on a bit of a whimper after all the build-up to a final battle with the Klingons to set things right. But there were also a ton of easter eggs for the fans, aside from Clint Howard’s cameo (and Howard has appeared on more Star Trek franchise series than anyone else). Of course it started with the Orions, but Geogiou mentions that she and Mirror Tilly subjugated the Betazoids in their universe (the race of Deanna Troi on The Next Generation) and destroyed the planet Mintaka III, also from The Next Generation episode ‘Who Watches the Watchers’. The irony here is that the Mintakans feared Picard would blow up their planet.

In the Orion marketplace, there were Ceti eels being grilled. You know, those little guys placed in the ears of Chekov and Captain Terrel in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. To get money in the marketplace, Tilly whips out some Nausican disruptor pistols. The Nausicans were first seen in The Next Generation episode ‘Tapestry’ where we learned Picard had been stabbed by one as a young cadet, resulting in his need of an artificial heart. At one point Georgiou loses her patience and says, ‘We didn’t come here for bread and circuses,’ with ‘Bread and Circuses’ being the title of an original series episode. In a tattoo parlor, it looked like there was a Trill with the neck spots made famous by Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine. On Earth, Burnham’s mother Amanda asks, ‘An isik for your thoughts.’ Michael asks what an isik is and neither of them know. Well, it’s actually a type of faux gold mentioned in the ‘Rivals’ episode of Deep Space Nine. The distress call from the Enterprise was the same as the one Spock received on the episode ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’.

Overall, the first season of Star Trek: Discovery improved episode by episode, and it looked like they were going to warp out of that corner they seemed to have painted themselves into, to boldy go on missions of their own that took them away from the original series timeline. But nope, they had to go and bring the Enterprise into the mix (and I had a sneaking suspicion we just might see the ship at some point, maybe season two, but definitely not as the season one cliffhanger). So where do we go from here? It’s really anyone’s guess at this point but I’m ready to continue the voyage. How about you?


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